By: Juan Barragan
Slightly Stoopid, Perro Bravo, and LAW
SOMA San Diego
13 December 2013
It’s holiday season and that means it’s also time for giving to those who are not as fortunate as us. This philosophy of paying it forward also resonated with the Skunk Records and Stoopid Records folks. Slightly Stoopid and Perro Bravo decided to put on a benefit show at SOMA for the Marine Toys for Tots San Diego. Concertgoers were encouraged to bring toys to the show for these children. By the end of the night, there were five over-stuffed bins with toys that were donated, as well as two bikes and 4 skateboards. On the bill to open for that night was LAW. This was a big step for the young band, as they had never played a sold out show before, and they had never played in front of hundreds of people. The chance to change that occurred, and the band took advantage of the opportunity.
LAW, consisting of San Diego natives and Long Beach residents, Jakob Nowell, Dakota Ethridge, and Nick Aguilar, for all intents and purposes, played their first official show in San Diego at this venue. The band has only been around for a few months, but their set seemed to resemble a band that has years of playing experience. They opened with the Queens of the Stone Age cover, “Go With The Flow.” The band unfortunately encountered a problem by the second verse of the song, as Jakob Nowell’s microphone decided to call it quits. This didn’t stop them from overcoming the problem, as Jakob ended up using Dakota’s microphone for the remainder of the song. However, it’s times like these where the band showed hints of their lack of experience on the stage, as the time that was spent trying to fix the problem was void of any sort of filler music, as is common with more veteran bands. The culprit of this microphone snafu would later be discovered by the time Perro Bravo took the stage. In the meantime, LAW proceeded to captivate the crowd in a way that very few openers have the ability to do. The band played mostly original songs throughout their set. LAW’s set featured some very well performed sound effects that featured perfectly timed echo, as well as reverb on the drums manipulated by someone backstage that caused the band’s songs to sound exponentially better. LAW’s musical style has seemed to have shifted in favor of the traditional fast paced ska-punk that Sublime was so famous for. The crowd seemed pleased with that though, demonstrated through the mosh pits that formed during some songs. It’s important to also realize that if any band is entitled to honing in on the Sublime sound, it’s LAW. This set was a good indication that LAW has potential to take full advantage of that sound through constant innovation heard in their original songs. LAW ended their set with two covers. The first was Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc.” through which bassist Dakota Ethridge got a chance to show his rapping ability for the crowd. The audience liked it, showing their approval through cheers and applause. What happened next was key for the band, as they decided to cover Sublime’s “Romeo.” The rhythm section for this song was so perfectly executed that anyone not looking at the stage would have thought that it was actually Sublime’s Bud Gaugh on drums and Eric Wilson on bass. Everyone was looking attentively at the stage though, even some members of the Slightly Stoopid and Perro Bravo crew on the side of the stage, all mesmerized by LAW’s ability to play the cover and make it sound like the original. Also worth mentioning was Jakob Nowell’s vocals during this song. The song was not easy to cover, and in fact features some very difficult lines that Jakob Nowell managed to keep up with without difficulty. The crowd, although probably unfamiliar with the obscure cover, were in awe after this song. This song was a game-changer for the band, and will undoubtedly cause members of the audience who saw this band to pay close attention to whatever they decide to do next. The expectations were high, and the final product far surpassed what anyone expected for an opener at SOMA San Diego. Even the drummer expressed his surprise of how well the audience responded to their set by confessing that he did not think the audience was going to fully appreciate their music. The audience proved him wrong; going to show that the effort the band put into preparing for this show went a long way.
Up next came Perro Bravo. The cause of the dead microphone was finally discovered when front man Michael “Miguel” Happoldt changed the batteries on his signature on stage machine, the Roland RE-20, before taking the stage. All prepared for the set, Perro Bravo started off with one of the songs that they have never played in San Diego, off of their newly released Smoking Scorpion Tales Vinyl-Only LP. The tune was “Last Ska Song,” which is an oral history of the band Sublime put into song that captures the story of Long Beach’s biggest band that has ever emerged from there, as well as the aftermath that resulted after Bradley Nowell’s untimely death. Perro Bravo played mostly faster paced songs such as “Living in Time,” and a cover of The (English) Beat, “Drowning.” The band ended their set with a mix from their released and unreleased material. They played “Girl Song,” where Happoldt playfully added some missing details to the song; the line goes, “She always passed her tests, they let her move out west (to Point Loma).” Happoldt has finally cleared up the mysterious nature of the song as listeners finally know where this “Beautiful Girl,” moved to. A very special guest joined the band to perform the unreleased song, “Electrified.” This guest was Jamin Hazelaar, who’s the lead singer of Thicker Than Thieves. He joined Happoldt and rapped a verse for the crowd that got them cheering. The song nonetheless electrified the night, and Perro Bravo ended their set with “S.S.T.”, a fast paced surf-rock song that got the crowd pumped for Slightly Stoopid, which would take the stage next.
Slightly Stoopid came onto the stage and began playing “False Rhythms,” and immediately captured the crowd’s energy. There was a lot of energy in the air. Slightly Stoopid caught wind of this energy and played, “Ska Diddy.” This got the crowd moving as soon as the song began. The band played hits from all of their albums. They played “Officer,” as well as “Don’t Stop.” The latter of the two being from their most recently released album, Top of the World. The crowd got particularly loud when one of the two vocalists, Kyle McDonald, mentioned that they wanted to record the show. The crowd swayed from left to right as they danced the night away to their favorite songs like “2 A.M.” Slightly Stoopid’s set featured some covers as well. They performed Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” as well as “Superficial Society” by Poway locals, Unwritten Law. The second of the two was very special for the crowd because the band brought on stage the lead singer of Unwritten Law and explained to the crowd that Unwritten Law was a huge inspiration for Slightly Stoopid, mentioning that they were one of the reasons that motivated them to one day play shows at SOMA. A huge mosh pit formed during this song, and it served as a perfect way to end the night.
For those of you who saw the show and are interested in seeing where these bands are going to play next, you can follow the bands on Facebook by searching for: LAWLBC and Perro-Bravo. All of the bands that played that night proved that there is definitely talent associated with anything that is closely related to Skunk Records. Slightly Stoopid was signed to Skunk Records when they first started playing music. Perro Bravo’s front man is the co-founder of the label, and he is working very closely with LAW.